Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Nurses put on thinking caps to brainstorm about new alumni group

Nursing alums
About two dozen nurses had a reunion of sorts recently at Grossmont College to launch a nursing program alumni group with the support of the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges.

The mostly recent graduates of the college’s high-demand nursing program returned to the campus Wednesday to be part of the Grossmont College Nursing Blue-Ribbon Panel to brainstorm ideas to expand membership of the new alumni group and get nursing grads numbering in the thousands to reconnect with the program.

“It’s not only a wonderful way for our graduates to renew ties and foster networking opportunities, it’s a way to support the program and its current students,” said Debbie Yaddow, the college’s dean of allied health and nursing.

Of the estimated 7,000 Grossmont College nursing alum existing today, about 80 percent are believed to be employed in in the field, well above the 54 percent statewide average for other nursing programs.

“This alumni group is a payback opportunity to help the college and students by setting up a donor program for student scholarships or to create a mentoring and tutoring program,” Yaddow said.

Heather Cavazos, the foundation’s development coordinator, said the select group of nursing alum was invited to come up with ideas on events, resources and communications to expand a small nursing alumni group of about 100 members formed in fall 2013.

“This small group identified a vision and mission, but there hasn’t been a consistent and long-term plan until now,” Cavazos said, adding that the next step is to form the Nursing Alumni Advisory Council as an offshoot of the foundation alumni group to plan program-specific activities and events. The council will identify three priorities for the 2014-2015 school year.

“Our current goal is to strengthen the active members and take this group to the next level in terms of commitment and activities,” Cavazos said. “We want to ensure that the alumni association provides what the nurses want so they will be engaged, and feel connected to each other and the college.”

Several from Wednesday’s blue-ribbon panel signed up to join the advisory council, Cavazos said. Ideas voiced by the group included:

·         A networking event, with alumni speaking to current students about educational resources and career opportunities.

·         A volunteering event, either on- or off-campus, that includes family

·         Mentoring program, with individually matched students and alumni

·         Continuing education courses and speaker series
        Hannah Wevodau, a 2010 graduate currently working in the emergency room of UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest, and Monica Finley, a 2011 graduate employed by Otay Lakes Surgery Center, said that besides the obvious networking benefits offered by an alumni group, helping current students should also be a priority.

“I think an alumni group just for nursing is a great idea,” Wevodau said. “Back when I was a student, I would have really appreciated having someone to go to for advice who’s gone through the program and is working in the field.”

Returning to Grossmont College was an opportunity for some to see the major advances in the nursing program made possible with a new facility and additional staffing.

For the earlier graduates, the $35 million Health and Sciences Complex built with voter-approved Proposition R bond funds and opened in 2010 was a marvel, with its high-tech labs used by all of the college’s health professions programs. The spacious complex includes patient-simulator labs so realistic that local hospitals use it for training.

For more information about the foundation’s alumni association, go to www.foundation.gcccd.edu/alumni/